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Showing posts from November, 2010

The new reality of interaction design

Recently we have seen some amazing new technologies entering the scene of interaction design and HCI. First came the Wii, then the iPhone and apps, and now the Kinect. Just in a few years the technology that can make up the interface of artifacts and systems have radically changed. We are moving into an era of highly physical, tangible, and haptic interfaces while at the same time seeing technology that makes the physical and tangible interfaces disappear.

All these new technologies are radically expanding the design space for interaction design. In the "old" days (just a few years back) almost any kind of interaction was all about the screen, keyboard, and mouse interface on a computer and more than often in relation to the web. Now, the same design includes questions about what device to use (desktops, laptops, iPads, iPhones, cell phones, cars, buildings, environments, appliances) or maybe develop a new special device manifested in any material, shape, and form, and also…

BOOK REVIEW: Clay Shirky "Cognitive Surplus -- creativity and generosity in a connected age"

Clay Shirky's latest book "Cognitive Surplus--creativity and generosity in a connected age" takes on the same topic as his previous books, namely how new technology changes our society when it comes to who has the power to be an information consumer versus a producer. The main claim in the book is that we (the people) have an enormous amount of "cognitive surplus", that is, time that we at the moment are not necessarily using for anything important, so there is a surplus of cognitive "power" that can be harvested. Shirky's prime example of the surplus is the amount of time people spend watching TV. This time is, according to the author, time that could be used for other purposes. The book is mainly a long parade of examples of people who has managed to use the new social technology to do things that only a few decades ago would have been impossible, or only possible for those with power or money. The examples are all exciting even though they are …

Hofstadter, Dennett and the "rough ground"

I have always been fascinated by philosophy about the mind and about human thinking. A great moment for me was when the book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter was published in 1979. The book was so different from anything else I had read in philosophy or any other academic field. The writing was so clear! It was direct, challenging, and provocative. Hofstadter took on questions about the mind in a logical and beautiful (!) way. The book made me continue to read other philosophers and particularly Daniel Dennett.

The book "The Mind's I" (1981) by Dennet and Hofstadter had probably an even greater impact on my thinking and I was overwhelmed by the rhetoric, the argumentation, and the logical reasoning. Over the years I have continued to read Dennett, maybe less for the ideas themselves (even though they are interesting) but more for the style, the logic, and the reasoning. I have always strived to be able to argue in a similar f…

BOOK REVIEW: Graham Harman "Prince of Networks -- Bruno Latour and Metaphysics"

As someone who has a lifelong interest in what could serve as a philosophical  foundation for design, I have for many years admired the work of Bruno Latour. I have read most of his books and have seen him as one of the most important contemporary philosophers. However, Latour has not received the same recognition from the professional philosophical community. He is by many seen as a sociologist and not as a philosopher.

The book "Prince of Networks -- Bruno Latour and Metaphysics" by Graham Harman makes a great case in presenting  the ideas of Bruno Latour as a philosopher and someone who actually contributes to foundational metaphysical questions. Harman's book is basically divided into two parts where the first is a wonderful presentation of Latour's writings and ideas. In the second part Harman elaborates on his own philosophical thinking which of course rests solidly on Latour's, but deviates in some crucial and important regards. I must say that I really e…

"The Dark Side of Creativity", book comment

One of our PhD students (Samantha, thanks!) pointed me the other day to a new book with the intriguing title "The Dark Side of Creativity". The book is edited by Cropley, D, Cropley, A, Kaufman, J, & Runco, M. and contains 20 chapters on the notion of creativity.

I need to point out that this blog post is not a book review since I have only read the first two chapters plus the last one, so, I will restrict my comments and not review the book as such.

It is obvious that the title of the book is intriguing and inviting for anyone who is dealing with studies of any kind of creative human activities, which for me of course is design. The editors make the observation that creativity is in our society seen as a completely positive "thing",  in some quarters almost revered in religious terms. This fact is in itself enough for a book that in serious fashion takes on the potential "dark side" of creativity. This is also the reason for the book according to the…

The Design Way, 2nd Edition

Some of you may know about the book "The Design Way -- Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World" that I wrote with my good friend and colleague Harold Nelson. Well, we have since it was published in 2003 struggled with our publisher who has been unusually difficult to work with. So, we are at the moment working on a 2nd Edition of the book. We also have a contract with MIT Press for the new edition, which will make things so much better. Now we just have to make sure that Harold and I  will be able to develop the new version, if so, it may be published in 2011. A couple of  new chapters, some parts removed, and some changes. Looking forward....